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The Anatomy of a Sous Vide Steak

Cuisine Solutions’ Chief Scientist Dr. Bruno Goussault shares his expert advice on preparing the perfect protein.

If you want to know the secret to a mouthwateringly tender, perfectly seared steak, there’s no one better to ask than Dr. Bruno Goussault, the Chief Scientist at Cuisine Solutions and the pioneering master behind the sous vide method. Below, he takes us through the necessary steps to achieve protein perfection, from the ideal initial sear to the finishing touch before serving. Along the way, learn how the science of the sous vide method helps you deliver a delicious finished product every time.

First, sear the meat so that it develops a brown color on all sides. Be sure to create a uniform color, whether you sear it on a griddle or make a crosshatch pattern on a grill.

The browning of the meat is a result of the Maillard reaction. Unlike caramelization, which develops by heating sugars, there are two elements at play during the Maillard reaction: the amino acids in the meat react with the reducing simple sugars.

When these elements react, it produces the Amadori components, which is the crispy, brown color on the surface of the meat. The same reaction appears during the baking of bread, and we can see it in the crispy crust and beautiful brown color. The Amadori component also carries the flavor and aromas that give the taste of the Maillard reaction.

Use Precision
In the kitchen, you have to produce flavor, and then lock in that flavor. This is why we sear the meat before cooking sous vide. During the cooking process, the flavors are enhanced and reach the core of the steak. Finally, the flavor is secured in the meat during the chilling process.

Searing the meat before cooking sous vide, of course, raises the core temperature of the meat. It is important to chill it before adding seasoning and sealing under vacuum. It is also very important to measure the seasoning to adjust to the weight of the product: 0.8% to 1% of salt (8 to 10 grams per kilogram) and 0.1% of pepper (1 gram per kilogram).

When cooking the meat at a precise temperature, it is critical to cook it in several steps. This will produce the best sensory qualities with a texture that is firm on the exterior and tender and juicy on the inside. After sous vide, locking in the flavor is achieved during the chilling process. Bring the temperature down slowly during the first 20 minutes. This allows the meat to re-absorb its natural juices, which are exuded during cooking. The second phase of chilling must be fast—place the sous vide pouch under icy water to stop the germination of pathogenic bacteria spores.

The reheating of the meat is even more important than the cooking. It must be warmed to a slightly lower temperature than it was initially cooked—this ensures it will not destroy what was enhanced during cooking. In the case of seared meat, don’t forget to re-sear at the end of reheating in the pouch. When the meat is cooked in the pouch, the color and texture are altered. Re-searing brings back the deep color and the desired crispy texture. Plate, serve, and enjoy!

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Dedicated to the Art & Science of Sous Vide
The first publication devoted to the art and science of sous vide cooking, featuring innovative recipes, visual inspiration, expert techniques for cooking sous vide at home, and exclusive interviews with world-class chefs.